Birth Story, Part II
3:44 p.m. - 2005-11-09
The next day passed as most "big" days do. Slooooowly. We weren't supposed to be at the hospital until 10 p.m., but planned to leave around 6 so that we could grab some dinner and stop to buy some toiletries, reading material, and snacks for the hospital.
It seemed like forever, but Alan finally made it home from work at 3 p.m. He showered and changed, and by 4 we just couldn't wait anymore. We stopped by my mother's to pick up her digital camera charger and drop off the dog, made a quick run by Melissa's to let her wish my belly luck, and then we were off.
Dinner at Applebee's, where nerves would only let me eat my salad, while Alan tried to keep himself from devouring the entire table. (Opposite reactions to stress, I guess.) Then a stop at Wal-M@rt, and a trip across town to Alan's mom's to give her the meal I didn't eat. We arrived at the hospital at 9:30 p.m., and I was a little worried that the nurses would chide us for being early. They were actually really grateful that we didn't come in at the same time as the other two scheduled inductions, because they were supposed to have everyone "checked in" by 10. (Why they don't just tell the women to be there earlier than that is beyond me.)
I changed into the regulation hospital gown, signed the DIE DEAD DYING DEATH ("but I've been working here for three years and I've never seen a uterine rupture") paperwork, and settled in for the night. Around 11 or so the nurse brought me an Ambien. I wasn't sure how it would affect me, so I only took half. It probably wouldn't have made a difference if I'd taken ten of them, though, because there was NO WAY I was getting any sleep that night.
We watched an hour or so of "O Brother Where Art Thou" and then tried to sleep. Alan was on a fold-out chair that looked hellaciously uncomfortable, and my bed may as well have been stuffed with rocks.
I dozed off and on throughout the night, getting up to pee every 45 minutes or so, and praying that that part of pregnancy would magically disappear as soon as the baby came out. (It did.)
About 6:00 the next morning they came in to set up the pitocin drip. I'd had the IV catheter thing put in the night before, so it didn't take long to get me hooked up to the machine. My mom was supposed to be at the hospital around 7:30, so I called to let her know that they were getting things started.
Everyone talks about how much pitocin hurts, but I didn't have that experience. At least not in the beginning. I started cramping--menstrual style--pretty early on, but it was nothing that I couldn't handle. I kept watching the monitor, but it was barely registering contractions, so that probably explains the lack of pain.
My mother and grandmother arrived pretty quickly, and Alan's mom wasn't far behind. I'd told them all at the beginning that I wasn't sure how I'd handle a bunch of people in the room while I was laboring, but they apparently didn't listen. They were talking and laughing amongst themselves, and I was fine with that, but my grandmother started to drive me INSANE shortly thereafter. She meant well, but the sweetness of the hand rubbing and hair tucking and jumping to see about me every time I breathed funny wore off after about the second time, and I finally told her through gritted teeth that if she didn't knock it off she was going to have to leave. She then took to standing at the foot of the bed, staring at me with her hands clasped, and when she finally went out of the room to the vending machine I told my mother that if she didn't get Nanny to quit I WAS GOING TO COME UNGLUED.
The doctor came in at 8:15 and told me that I was between 4-5 cm dilated and 80% effaced. He broke my water, and things started to get really intense after that. I'd wondered before what it felt like when the waters broke, and it was EXACTLY as everyone has always described it. Like you're peeing and peeing on yourself and can't stop. Lots and lots of really warm fluid gushing out at one time, and then small gushes with each contraction.
The contractions didn't really get stronger up top, but the baby's head really started grinding against my cervix without the bag of waters to cushion it. Each contraction would push her down there, and it was really more than I could bear. I think that if I had been able to get up and walk around it might have been easier, but with my water broken all I could do was grab the bed handle and white-knuckle my way through it. I'd read tons of information about relaxing through the contractions, and I understand that, in theory. After all, the uterus is just one big muscle, and relaxing helps to keep the pain at a minimum, whereas tensing would make it hurt worse. But the pain I was having wasn't controllable that way, because no amount of relaxing would keep her head from ramming against my cervix.
I only made it forty minutes before I started asking about the epidural. I was 5 centimeters at that point, which I considered pretty good, but I really had wanted to birth without it. The nurse frowned at my indecision and said that the anesthesiologist was about to leave, and that she'd just tell him to go ahead and we'd call him later, but I was NOT okay with that idea.
"No, no...I want it. Please."
So he came in with his cart, and I sat up on the side of the bed with a pillow in my lap and the nurse standing in front of me. I had to lean over and hug the pillow, and every time a contraction would hit, I tried to keep from crying out. It felt like the most intense, excruciatingly painful need to urinate that I've ever experienced, and I whimpered, "I'm going to pee on myself." The sweet little nurse hugged me close to her and said that I was just feeling the baby's head moving down, and that I was doing so well, and I'd feel much better soon. I tried to believe her while he stuck that needle (which I made a point NOT to look at) in my spine.
He told me that I'd feel pressure, and boy, was he ever right. What he didn't tell me was that I'd feel an electrical current run all the way down my left leg that hurt worse than the labor. I felt warm fluid squirt down my back, and couldn't help wondering what it was. He seemed to be taking an awfully long time back there, and then I felt pressure and that awful shock down my left side again, and that was the only time I cried out during the entire labor process. More hugs from the nurse, but no sign that the epidural was in place. One more time of pressure and electric pain, and then he asked me if I heard any ringing in my ears.
"No, am I supposed to?"
Turns out the anesthesiologist stuck me THREE TIMES before he got the needle in the right spot, and that warm fluid was blood squirting out. It was all over the sheets when I finally lay back, and I halfway wished that I hadn't asked for the epidural. I started feeling better once the medicine went in, though I absolutely HATED not being able to feel my legs. I could still feel my right side a little, but my left was completely dead, and I got a fleeting glimpse of what life must be like for people who are paralyzed.
The next few hours passed without much to note, since I wasn't in pain and could talk just fine. There were way, way more people there than I'd have liked--sometimes the room had 12 or more in there--and I began to feel claustorphobic a couple of times. Thankfully, most of them stayed in the waiting room and gave me space.
I had another internal check that showed I was progressing nicely, and when the doctor came in around noon I was at 8-9 cm.
After he checked me, the doctor left the room. He was back within ten minutes. The baby's heartrate had been doing some funny little dips and dives on the monitor, but the nurses had assured me that it was nothing to worry about. I'd been freaking out inside every time I heard or saw it go down, but was trying not to say anything.
"Looks like the baby isn't liking something that's going on," he told me. "Let's look and see where we are so that we can try to get her out of there."